What is Involved in Scar Revision?

by Ross Rudolph, MD

Learn from Scripps plastic surgeon, Dr. Ross Rudolph, a variety of ways to remove scars.

After an accident, surgery or other skin injury, scar tissue can form in the skin. The size and type of the scar generally reflect the degree of the original injury. Other factors play a part, such as genetics and where the scar is located. Some scars may be minimal, while keloids and other thick scars can cause significant problems.

Though some scars tend to reduce with time, they are not a pretty sight, and people generally would like to speed up the healing process. Sometimes people apply topical creams to reduce scars, which may provide some benefit, depending on the type of scar. If you are thinking of revision surgery, consult your physician on the timing of the procedure.

There are a variety of ways to remove scars. Dermabrasion or laser treatments remove the top layers of skin, which is useful for superficial scars. More extensive scars can be removed surgically, and the wound carefully sutured. However, it’s important to note that scars are not always simply cosmetic issues. Scarring from serious injuries can actually restrict freedom of movement. Scar surgery can be very beneficial but the type of surgery needs to be evaluated by a physician skilled in scar treatment.

One technique to revise more serious scars is called a Z-plasty. Surgeons cut along either side of the scar, and move flaps of skin, which can make the scar less apparent. Another procedure, not often used for scar revision, is skin grafting. Healthy tissue is taken from another part of the body and transplanted over the injury site.

There are other techniques, which are used based on their ability to repair the scar. Your plastic surgeon can provide more details about scar revision.

This Scripps Health and Wellness tip was provided by Ross Rudolph, MD, a facial plastic and reconstructive surgeon at Scripps Clinic in San Diego.